Daily Discovery is a feature that will highlight a new or recently discovered artist who we’re excited about. See the rest of our Daily Discoveries here.
We learned about New York-based Norwegian artist OKAY KAYA after she put out a hazy video of herself singing a dreamy, acoustic song called “Clouds.” While visually it’s both whimsical and psychedelic, the song is playfully melancholic, as she pouts through the city saying, “You never, never loved me like you should.”
Today she releases a song with more polished production, “Damn, Gravity,” produced by Rodaidh McDonald (King Krule, The xx, Sampha). Ahead of touring with Tobias Jesso Jr., we interviewed OKAY KAYA about growing up in Norway, her early influences, and what she’s working on this year.
What was it like to grow up in Norway?
I grew up on a peninsula outside of Oslo with my mum and three brothers. We spent a lot of time outside—skiing in the winter, swimming in the summer. My father is from the states, and I was born in New Jersey, but my mum is Norwegian, and I lived there until I was 18, so I suppose I consider myself Norwegian.
Who were some of your earlier music influences?
My mother always let us play records in the car. She used to play Cypress Hill in our Fiat on the way to kindergarten. My first CD was The Very Best of Aretha Franklin, Vol. 2. I listened to “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” over and over again. I must have been 10 years old yelling along to, “I was only seventeen, I never dreamed he’d be so mean.”
How did you get into making music and learn guitar?
Growing up I would try to play electric guitar with my brother, who plays drums in a Black Metal band. We would just cover Satyricon songs, so I never learned how to play properly, but I just loved playing around with instruments. I started writing music when I moved to New York in 2009 without knowing anyone there. I just bought a guitar and would go home and try to find chords to match the melodies in my head.
Are you looking forward to touring with Tobias Jesso Jr.? How did you get in touch with him to get on the tour?
We were introduced through our management/labels before Christmas—it was all very formal. But this is my first tour, and I can’t wait! Tobias is so talented, I’m so happy that I get to go on the road with him and see him perform a bunch. And he is also hilariously funny.
Do you plan to write while you’re on the road?
Definitely, I’m always writing something or other. Always writing. I just got a Honeytone amp so I can “shred” in my hotel room.
Are you working towards any specific projects for 2015?
Just trying to figure out what an OKAY KAYA album looks like. Maybe a few collaborations. We’ll see!